Parade Safety and Security Always a Focus at the National Cherry Festival

Following the deadly Fourth of July parade shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, there are some extra concerns and extra attention on parade safety and security. Cherry Festival Responds To Changes On Outdoor Restrictions

The National Cherry Festival parades are a major attraction, among the big events here at the festival. Again this year, two big parades will take to the streets of downtown Traverse City: Thursday night’s Community Royale Parade  and the Cherry Royale Parade on Saturday.

Traverse City Police Chief Jeff O’Brien says, “Unfortunately law enforcement is reactionary… We do have that action plan. We’ve had it now for quite some time. And in light of what’s happened in Illinois it’s just a matter of additional resources to bring in.”

The Festival hasn’t announced any changes coming to the parades this year, although some extra conversations are taking place following what happened in Highland Park. They’ve also had a security plan in place for eight years, so none of this planning happens last-minute. “I feel pretty confident that we have tweaked that, or are tweaking it to where we can generally say it’s safe for people in Traverse City,” the chief says.

He adds that they take a multi-agency approach to parade safety and security with input from city, county, and state police, plus local fire, emergency management, and ambulance services. “It’s a multidisciplinary approach. Different agencies are at the table and bringing shared assets and shared resources to make sure everybody is safe. The more people you have involved thinking about different scenarios the better off it is.”

The President of the Cherry Festival Foundation is Jeff Needham. He has a background as parade director here, and he’s confident in the plans they have. “There’s a lot of other security that goes on throughout the parade and before the parade, and during. I can’t get into all the details of it for obvious reasons but there’s a whole host of things that are taken into account.”

He adds, “There’s only so much you can do across the board. I think the biggest thing (for) the public is, if you see something – say something.”

Traverse City Police take part in the parade, and again this year they’ll have officers staged at the beginning, end, and along the parade route.

The first parade here is Thursday night at 6:30. Saturday’s parade kicks off at 11:15 in the morning and both will run down Front Street in downtown Traverse City.